By Zachary Shess
Compaq has continued its methodical storage area network (SAN) product and services rollout by shipping new management tools and hardware devices that add to its growing number of building blocks for heterogeneous SANs.
The new hardware and software tools tackle specific SAN component management areas, including device discovery, monitoring, and accounting. Compaq's latest SAN tools reside on its new SANworks Management Appliance. The appliance provides a centralized monitoring and management point, acting as a platform-independent meta-data server that enables management functions to be performed without tasking host systems. While still connected to the SAN fabric, the device is located outside of the SAN data path, allowing data transfers between servers and storage devices to continue independently -- even when the appliance is not operational.
"It's an intriguing device because management is located off to the side of the SAN," says John Webster, a senior analyst with Illuminata, a Nashua, NH consulting firm. "That's different from other vendors that want to homogenize the file system. This will leave the file system untouched."
Compaq is also shipping SANworks Resource Monitor software, which provides event notification for the Management Appliance by monitoring the health of switches and arrays. Compaq officials contend that, because of continuous monitoring, users will see increased service levels, lower management costs, and minimized downtime.
Open SAN Manager is a new Web-based management interface for the SANworks Management Appliance. The tool launches and accesses SANworks applications that include services to enable users to configure, monitor, and organize storage resources. Also sitting on the Management Appliance is Storage Allocation Reporter software. Storage service providers or other capacity providers can track and affix a price to the amount of allocated data used by internal or external users.
"Storage providers can use this type of tool to bill storage as a utility service," says Gary Wright, director of enterprise storage software at Compaq.
Compaq also announced RAID subsystems -- the Modular Array 8000 and Enterprise Modular Array 12000 -- that include improvements in storage density and the ability to scale up to 4.3TB in a single 19-inch rack.
Since Compaq announced its Enterprise Network Storage Architecture (ENSA) in late 1998, industry analysts, including Illuminata's Webster and Gartner Group's Nick Allen, believe the company has established itself as one of the leading SAN product and services vendors. However, because Compaq has introduced so many tools under the ENSA umbrella, Webster anticipates some integration and education challenges ahead.
"Compaq has so much out there that their challenge going forward will be to help their customers and resellers decipher what each of these pieces do in relation to all the other elements they've introduced," says Webster.